A question for Nikki Haley
“If you do get ‘catch and deport,’ what would you do with all of the ones who are here now?”
The phrase “catch and deport” refers to Ms. Haley’s campaign trail riff on the term “catch and release,” which generally refers to the longtime practice of allowing people who have been vetted and deemed a low risk to live in communities, instead of detention, as they wait for their immigration cases to move through the courts.
Former President Donald Trump made ending the practice central to his first White House campaign, and frequently derided it while in office. But his administration widely expanded it in 2019 before scaling it back again, as it struggled to process an increase in families arriving at the nation’s southern border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In 2020, Trump officials began to turn away people who sought asylum at the border, which led to their expulsion without the right to claim they feared returning to their home country because of persecution or torture. The removals were carried out amid the coronavirus pandemic, under a public health order called Title 42, which expired under President Biden in May.
With migration patterns changing and reaching new highs around the world, the Biden administration has expanded legal pathways to entry for some migrants. Still, illegal border crossings continue to set records, straining city support systems. Ms. Haley has said she would immediately deport those who enter unlawfully.
“OK, of the six to seven million that have come over since Biden did this — this is going to sound harsh — but you send them back. And the reason you send them back, the reason you send them back is because, my parents, they came here legally. They put in the time, they put in the price. I take care of my parents. They live with us. They’re 87 and 89. There’s not a time I’ve had dinner with my mom when she doesn’t say, ‘Are those people still crossing the border?’ And the reason is, they are offended by what’s happening on the border. And when you allow those six or seven million to come, to all those people who’ve done it the right way, you’re letting them jump the line.”
As governor of South Carolina, Ms. Haley signed some of the harshest immigration laws in the country in 2011, including measures that required police officers to check the immigration status of some people. But she tended to refrain from fire and brimstone in her language on the issue, and tended to describe immigrants and refugees as part of the fabric of American society.
On the campaign trail now, Ms. Haley and her top rivals have spent months trying to outdo each other with extreme immigration proposals and rhetoric as the party’s primary base has veered hard right on the issue. Ms. Haley, the daughter of Indian American immigrants, has in particular wielded her background to significant effect as a messenger for hard-line proposals.